Lou Popham


loudied (alone) from a heroin and cocaine speedball injection, in a hotel room in San Diego, CA on May 15, 1996.

At one time he was clean for 6 years, in active addiction he once landed his plane loaded with dope and he himself was so loaded he ended up at Parris Island Marine Base by mistake.

Click Here for Addict Out of the Dark and into the Light – 45_Lou.mp3


Lou states – Cleaning up was obtainable, but never lasting. We had staples put in our ears. Had Hypnotists come out to my house, I went to England for Aqupuncture , and in nut wards stood in line in Methadone clinics for eleven years, My mother used to send money to the T.V. preacher, and some other shit. Tried alot of different things and nothing worked.

From the Book Addict Out of the Dark and into the Light copyright Keeley 1987-2007: DOB: 1/11/53; Washington, D.C.

Cleaning up was obtainable, but never lasting. We had staples put in our ears. Had hypnotists come our to my house, I went to England for acupuncture, and in nut wards, stood in line in Methadone clinics for eleven years, my mother used to send money to the T.V. preacher, prayed over our names on a slip of paper, and some other shit. Tried a lot of different things and nothing ever worked.

Addiction goes back a long way for me. I was, I guess, I used drugs every day because I wanted to feel like I thought everybody else felt. And when I first used that seemed to be the way to do it. I felt more comfortable, more at ease with people, with my situation, with myself. I was never, I always felt like I just didn’t fit in. When I was a little kid I used to ask my mother if I was adopted and she just hadn’t told me about it.

I stayed off to myself a whole lot, and using freed me up on that. In the beginning it gave me the ability to talk, to socialize, to be whatever I wanted to be, or what I thought you wanted me to be. I guess all I was looking for was a little normalcy, and I found that in drugs. I found acceptance, I found respect, and I found dependency. In it I caught on that as long as I had drugs I had friends. As long as I had something that somebody else needed, I would be at least sought after if not cared about.

It’s with the delusions that I grew up, knowing that I was never going to be okay. Really strange, because I don’t know how to put for these purposes what I was looking for. All I knew is what I was looking for wasn’t where I was. Drugs gave me the ability to feel better about myself and about others and about the world in general, about fucking life.

That worked for a while, and than I came to a point where one morning I woke up, it wasn’t fun anymore, it was a constant hassle. I had been getting into trouble with the law, with the court systems, getting involved there, and getting naturally looked down upon by my fellows in schools, parents, all the authority figures that I thought I needed to rebel against. I couldn’t seem to please myself from the start, but now I couldn’t seem to please others either.

As I tried, it was just getting to be too much to handle. I kept getting into trouble with using drugs and with the law for possessions, for sales, and the court systems had fixed for me when I was little. They’d send me off to these places for treatment or therapeutic communities, doctors, and I didn’t want any part of it.

I didn’t know that that’s what was causing all the desperation I was feeling inside, so I just stayed away from looking at anything to do with my addiction. I’d get forced into treatment and things like that, and I’d play the game — treatment was a game, I had game planned for it, just like I had game planned for life, I guess.

Everything has a system, and I thought it was my goal and reason for being here was to figure our systems and to get around the corners. I never wanted to take active responsibility for anything. I just wanted to figure out how other people were doing, figure a short cut around and circumvent and that gratification. And at this point, and in all the areas of my life, I started smuggling.

One summer when my mother did one of her quick fixes and took us kids on a trip to Jamaica, ran into an old native, just stuck a couple of pounds of reefer in this hokie, touristy looking box, supposedly a musical instrument, and coming back through the airport, you know, we get to Customs and I hand the box to my mother and tell her to walk through with it, that I would get the heavy luggage, and when I went back and looked at my life and my addiction, one of the things that jumped up as an early out, getting away from any kind of responsibilities, naturally my life was a series of misunderstandings and bad luck.

It was about, it was never my fault, and nothing I did was my fault. If people would just leave me the fuck alone, I’d be all right. I had what I thought were the answers to everything. I don’t know where I got all this grand knowledge of anything like that. I just knew that I knew better than anybody else and therefore I couldn’t afford to listen to anybody else because they didn’t know shit. I used to look at normal people and wonder how they could be satisfied with their mundane little lives, because mine was so fucking exciting. And the truth of the matter is I was getting into one jackpot after another, basically living from crisis. And not being able to figure that out.

It seemed that every time I got into a crisis that I couldn’t get out of, the only thing that would pull me out of it was bigger one, and then the one that I had before just didn’t seem like that big a deal. I ran around, I liked to control people, I loved to look for their reactions,

I’d do things, say things, and be different things just to see the shock value, or how it would affect other people. And me and my life were just were just malleable, a vehicle for doing that. I was like when I was shooting dope, my disease was totally separate from my body, and it was what controlled me, it had me do whatever I wanted to do, basically so I could watch and see how it acted upon others.

When I got into smuggling and dealing, I used to love the control of it. I used to love the feeling of power, the felling of need, the feeling of being able to have someone stand on a street corner for four hours in the rain waiting for me while I sat down the block and watched them.

It’s really sick trippy shit. I also thought about the things which, when I would get into serious depression and take a look at the true misery in my life. I’d know that if I only had this or that, if I only had a better car, prettier girlfriend, nicer place to live, a boat, a new motorcycle, an airplane, that if I could obtain these things, if I had X amount of dollars in my pocket, I would be all right. If I could just get someone, this other girl, then I would be all right. If I could just drive this car, I would be all right.

And the funny thing was I started accumulating these things, through my dealing and all, I was able to buy things, and when I got them, that wasn’t it. I was still feeling real empty inside. It was like I had a hole in my gut that the wind could blow through. I ended up; one of the toys that I got was an airplane. I had learned how to fly and I ended up getting a couple of keys of dope, and I was flying from Miami back up to D.C. and I stopped for fuel along the way in Florida. And when I landed my brakes blew out.

I had to wait while they fixed the brake line on the plane for about six hours. And while I was waiting I dug into the stash and took an ounce of dope and put it into a baggie, got a few sets of works, and loaded them up for the ride. Then I went and shot some dope before I took off, and then when I got in the air looked at my altitude and on my heading I shot some more until I nodded off.

When I came out of this nod, well, I was supposed to stop in Savannah, Georgia for some more gas for the night. And when I looked up I had passed Savannah. My radio direction finder was giving me a firm indication, which meant I had gone past the place, and I didn’t know where the hell I was. It was about a quarter to midnight, and both my wing tanks were dry, and I frantically started looking over the charts to try to figure out where I was.

And by dead reckoning the charts were showing me that I should be somewhere around Hilton Head, South Carolina, which had an uncontrolled air strip that I could tune in the radio and flash the mike three times, and the field would light up. So I tuned in the radio and I flashed the mike and this field lights up right off to my left. And I was like so relieved and breaking my arm and patting myself on the back for being such a fucking great navigator that I could be nodded out, come out of the nod, and be right there.

I put the plane nose down, full flaps, landed on this field, and as I taxied in I saw all these Phantom Fighter jets and a bunch of Marines standing around with M-16’s. I had landed at Parris Island Marine Base by mistake. I guess that’s pretty fucking sick in itself. Once again, I couldn’t face responsibility for any of my own actions or any of my disease.

And I bailed out of there from the Federal Authorities. They put me in jail, they kept me, they kept my plane, they kept my dope, but I bailed out of there and took off. I never bothered to show up for court. I got really sick. There were times, although I shot heroin for eighteen years, pretty much on a daily basis, I guess anything that would keep me from feeling, period.

And I can remember breaking into a veterinarian’s office, and just loading up a pillow case with just anything that was injectable, that was something that I might like, and getting back with my partner, and sitting in a bathroom going through this shit and not really recognizing anything until we came upon a bottle of euthanasia agents — it’s for putting dogs and horses to sleep, out of their misery.

And on the side of the bottle, it’s talking about for a small dog you use one half a c.c. and for a large dog one c.c., and for one c.c. per hand on a horse. And we’re sitting there looking at each other as we’re drawing this shit up, trying to figure out how many hands we are on a horse. I guess that was always my goal in life, to come as close to death as possible without actually dying. Just so I could get up and do it again.

It was really a miserable existence. And I was so caught up in it I didn’t know what else to do, and didn’t know that there were any answers. I have a little brother that I used to shoot dope with. My little brother ended up in a treatment facility. Started calling me. And at this point, I was a Federal fugitive, and assumed five or six different aliases. He used to call up and tell me that he was staying clean. I’d tell him, “Sure, sure. Call me back in a month and tell me the same thing, because both you and I, we tried to clean up many times in many different ways.”

Cleaning up was obtainable, but never lasting. We had staples put in our ears. Had hypnotists come out to my house, I went to England for acupuncture, and in nut wards, stood in line in methadone clinics for eleven years, my mother used to send money to the T.V. preacher, prayed over our names on a slip of paper, and some other shit. Tried a lot of different things and nothing ever worked. And here’s my little brother calling me up and telling me that there is a way, and that he is doing it, he is staying clean.

And so after a few months of his calling, and still claiming to be clean, telling me why don’t you go check out a meeting. And at the time I was hiding in D.C., and I was on a methadone clinic, down on 7717 Sixth Street, and I’d go down there in the morning and I would buy fifteen Valium out front, throw those back, swallow them down, go up and get my juice, and that would be me for the day.

That would give me enough strength to go out and hustle up, steal choo-choo trains at Toys-R-Us and return them. Pick on some out of towners and take their money. All kinds of different little scams I was running on banks, to get money. And I would go out and cop some heroin and shoot that on top of it. Just never seemed to be able to get enough.

He told me to go to this meeting at night, and I found out that there was one in D.C. at the time. Actually, there was two or three a week. And I went up to this place over at Howard University Hospital and I walked in and there were some people there and there were like three or four people that seemed to be truly involved in recovery.

And there were fifteen people there I guess that were there because they had to be; VA Center or Vanata or something like that was making them attend the meetings. And I listened. They told me how to get clean, or so I thought. I have real selective hearing.

And the next day I didn’t eat any Valiums when I went to the Methadone clinic and I didn’t go get any dope afterwards. I was drinking my methadone and I was clean. So I thought. And I kept going to those meetings. A lot of the people that had to be there kept going out the door, relapsing, and a lot of them were looking for a half partner on a quarter of dope afterwards. And being that I never really got clean, I wasn’t about it anyways, so naturally I ended up continuing to use drugs.

I did this for a long time. I kept coming around to the meetings of recovery, these people that were staying clean. And they kept telling me how they were doing it and I thought it was too simple. Something this simple just couldn’t work. And I could see it working for them and figured that’s great; it works for them, because it will never work for me. So for a long time I came and I went, I came and I went, I came and I went.

And finally ended up with a partner of mine in D.C. He ended up involved in a double homicide, and I decided that maybe it was a good time to take a vacation, go back and go to treatment. I needed to get out of town, and all it was, was an escape. Once again I wasn’t ready to take responsibility for anything.

So I got out of town and I went to this treatment center and they took us to meetings and I still wasn’t ready. Paid through the nose to be at this place that took us some place that you could go for free, and that is about all they had to offer.

And I was still crawling out of the window at the hospital at night, running down and copping dope. I had a real hard time getting a grasp on the fact that maybe it had something to do with the way I felt. But I knew how to play the treatment game; because it was numerous times before that the courts sent me there. So I played, graduated with honors, moved to California.

In California, I would go to meetings and I would go loaded all the time. I’d shoot dope and go to a meeting. I had to shoot three bags of dope just to get the courage to ask this guy to help me with my recovery and help me get clean. He did, and I like held on to him. Crawled into his pocket and stayed there. And for the first time, I really got clean. It was strange. I was still thinking that I knew everything and that got into my way.

But for the first time in my life I stayed clean for a while. And I was beginning to feel a little bit better about me. This guy who helped me get clean in the beginning ended up calling me up one night and I had him way up on a pedestal. This guy was like larger than life to me.

He had been clean six and a half years. Six and a half hours seemed insurmountable to me. And after I had six months clean he calls me up and tells me he found the true answers and wanted to go hauling me off to some New Mount Zion Bethel Missionary Baptist Church or some horseshit, to go get dunked in a lake and follow the true path.

So I got very confused at this point and did what I do best when I get confused. I went and shot some dope. I said that’s that. Still, I got so strung out on that run that there was a difference. The drugs were cut with this program of recovering addicts I had been around.

And I was still sitting like on the fence, still trying to come around to meetings, because I knew that’s where I needed to be. And once again I was unable to get clean. Knowing that it worked for the others, and wanting what they had, but too afraid to go ahead and make a commitment to do it. Just knowing that I would end up failing again.

It was a real weird position to be in. Sitting on a fence like that. I ended up one day, knowing that I couldn’t continue living the way I was living, and yet unable to find enough hope that I could actually stay clean for any period of time or anything with a program of recovery.

So I ended up going and making this doctor for a hundred Valiums, wrote some bad checks and got some money together, went and got fifteen hundred dollars worth of raw dope, and I went back home and I sat down and I wrote this big fucking suicide letter, and wrote out a will, and all that other good dramatic shit that addicts have tendencies to do.

And I ate those Valiums and I shot the dope, figuring that that would be the end of it. Somehow I came to, like three days later, in the middle of the floor. I got up and I had to read that shit that I wrote, and once again I knew just what a failure I was. I couldn’t even do this right. And it just like totally drained me. I had fully given up on me.

Everybody else had given up on me for a long time before that. I remember one time being in Georgetown University Hospital, because I don’t have any of my veins left, and I had gone in my neck and hit a carotid artery by mistake, and my neck blew up and all this.

My mother came up to visit me, and the doctor told her she ought to just go home and forget that she ever had a son, that I was going to definitely be dead within six months. And the doctor told me basically the same stuff, and told me that if I ever shot dope in my neck again that I was going to die immediately. And somehow within fifteen minutes of leaving the hospital I had a needle back in my neck. It’s like I didn’t care.

But that was other people giving up on me. This time I had totally given up. So seeing how I couldn’t kill myself, I went and checked into a long-term type treatment facility. They sent us to a lot of meetings, did a lot of group, and a lot of other happy horseshit they do in treatment centers. Basically, again they were selling me something that I could have gotten for free, by just walking into the rooms of recovery.

When I left there I got nailed for being a fugitive, and I had to go back and face the trial and all that, and ended up hammering out a deal for a three-year sentence. And what I picked up in that treatment center and what I had picked up in all the meetings I had gone to before and the other times when I put together a little bit of clean time, was the fact that this was the only thing that was happening in these people’s lives, and that through all the things I had tried, nothing had ever worked.

And maybe I had never really taken the suggestions that were made to me, and I certainly hadn’t tried doing the thing they told me worked for them was not using any drugs, going to meetings and changing your entire life.

I decided that I was going to give it an honest try. I went to jail, and I went to prison, and I stayed clean. They told me all along all these simple little things but I wasn’t able to listen to them. Because they were too simple and I was too smart for all that. But when I honestly realized that I didn’t know shit about what I was doing, and was able to try to take a look at what these clean addicts were telling me in the meetings, that things got pretty simple. Not real easy but simple, to the point where I could follow them.

I found out about being powerless over my addiction and not specific drugs. And I found out that my addiction went in all areas of my life. And I found a way that I could stay clean and not just get clean this time. It was by realizing that these other areas in my life could be dealt with and I could live through the feelings.

I think that was the most important thing that I have ever come upon. Because before I had been totally afraid to have feelings, to acknowledge them, and I kept myself so loaded that I didn’t have to. It got to a point where I got real grateful for any kind of feeling at all, good, bad or indifferent.

Just the fact that I could handle it and that I could make it through a day without going back was like an explosion or something that I never thought was obtainable. I carried off in a bunch of different directions by being an addict. I never allowed myself to live. Through being clean and recovering I find a way of not just living but also enjoying life.

I’ve found a way of caring about myself and caring about other human beings today. And for me that’s unbelievable, just to be able to wake up in the morning and be glad that I woke up is a miracle in my life. To be glad that I’ve got another day to get out there and do something and meet somebody new in recovery, to share in life.

It’s really strange for me. For me to be able to go to work, for me to be able to talk to another person, to admit that there is something that may know more about dealing with my life than I do. These are the things that I find to keep me clean and guide me in my recovery.

When I first cleaned up I used to go to meetings and I would be so relieved to get to a meeting, because I could live off of somebody else’s recovery. I didn’t have any, so I would get there for that hour, and I would get charged up and I would feel good, I’d feel safe for that hour. That was like my insurance policy against today. For the other twenty-three hours I could get in some real weird space though.

Today I have my recovery and it works for me twenty-four hours a day. God, it’s a lot easier. It’s a lot fucking easier, because I am not just living off of somebody else; I’m living off my own. One of the things they used to tell me, I used to hear, was that I heard this in meetings, people would be talking about — I just know if I go out and use drugs again I am going to die.

And I knew it was bullshit, because I had gone out and I had used many times and I wasn’t allowed to die. There were many times when I felt and hoped and prayed that I would. For me that’s a much scarier thing than dying, is going out and living through that shit. Like I was feeling before.

Living in addiction for me was like a constant feeling of the same way I’ve felt whenever I would go to jail, or go to prison. That first night there was like, “Oh, fuck. I am never going to get through this.” In my addiction, that’s how I felt all the time. I don’t feel that way today. I have an actual feeling of freedom.

And even when I did that last bit, though I was behind the walls of Atlanta and then in Lexington, I was free. Every time I went to prison before that I was still caught up in running around and trying to find some way not to have to deal with it and not to have to live in it. And I would use anything I could find to get high while I was in there. Sometimes I’d come out with a bigger habit than when I went in there with. Last time I felt freer than I had on the outside, and that was a strange sensation.

I don’t know what kind of accomplishments I have today other that staying clean. For me that’s a big one! When I first started coming around to meetings, I used to think about never using drugs again.

And every time I thought that I would never use again, something in my head would kick in and tell me, “Well, let’s go get one last good one to remember it by that.” And eventually I ended up doing that. It drove home that simple point that all I have clean is today. I can’t rest on what I did yesterday. Just because I stayed clean yesterday doesn’t mean I’ll stay clean today.

As long as I keep thing as simple as possible, then I get through it and I have a chance that things are going to be better. All those things that I ever wanted, material things and all that, I have reobtained since I have been in recovery.

But the switch is that now I know that I don’t need them, they are nice to have and they are fun to play with, but that freedom I was talking about is a feeling of comfortability with me, it’s a feeling that I am doing something today that I could be happy with. And it may not mean much to anybody else but it means a lot to me.

I used to go to hospitals with overdoses, and they’d take my jewelry off and they’d take my money, my clothes. My money and jewelry would get locked up in a safe and my clothes would end up somewhere and I would end up with one of those little gowns on, with my ass hanging out and I would be left all alone.

Or when I went to prison, they put me in a flame orange jumpsuit and take all that shit away and I would be left alone with that hurting feeling. Today you could take away all the outside shit and I would still have what I have found. What recovery has given me on the inside you can’t take that away. I am the only one that can do that today. I am the only one that can fuck up my own life to the point of where it was before. I have that choice.

Lou died (alone) from a Heroin and Cocaine speedball injection, in a hotel room in San Diego, CA on May 15, 1996.


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